Quotes from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Saturday, 29 October 2011

“A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame… as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world…aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.”

[…]

“My point is that one person is responsible. Always. […] In terms of morals there is no such thing as ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts.”

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein pp 84-85

I’m struck at how very existentialist that quote is. Just as I’m struck at how very apropos the following quote is to the #occupy movement.

“A managed democracy is a wonderful thing […] for the managers…and its greatest strength is a ‘free press’ when ‘free’ is defined as ‘responsible’ and the managers define what is ‘irresponsible.'”

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein pg 256

Limit Approaching Zero

Tuesday, 1 July 2003

I’m fairly well read in existentialist literature, I still buy into portions of it, for they allow great strength to be present within an individual, thereby strengthening myself.

But as with all things in me, there is an inevitable backlash. Although I am not quite sure this one is a true backlash or merely another spin.

Instead of freedom of choice in the world, we are totally limited by that very freedom.

My understanding of existentialism, is that, though the world is inherently meaningless, we as humans, have the ability to create our own meaning for ourselves within the world, thus giving ourselves control over our lives.

But this series of choices has another side. If I make a choice, by its definition, I have also excluded other choices, thereby limiting my own existence. However, if I make no choice [in and of itself still a choice], I remain stagnant and limit myself in that way.

An example:

You are in a room with two doors. You can go through one of them, or you can go through the other [sound a bit like the Matrix: Reloaded, or the Lady and the Tiger?], or you can go through neither and remain in the room. These are your choices.

If you choose to go through one door, you exclude going through the other, and exclude choosing neither, you have limited your choices, and moved forward.

It works the same with the other door.

If no choice is made, you just remain, and are limited to the current set of choices.

So it should be undeniable, if a person is concerned with progress making a decision and moving forward is preferable to remaining still.

Yet each decision cuts off the possibilities that other choices could have made. Thus, the ability to choose the path you follow, the existentialist freedom of meaning, contains within it a paradox. You choose what path not not to follow as well. This freedom, considered the ultimate freedom [by me at least], is limiting.

In any case, we are bound by forces outside of our control. Since we all die, this limiting freedom is only something that is as extant as our mind.

Metaphysics is a whole different ballgame.

c’est la vie.